Dallas school district apologizes for assignment including Kenosha shooting suspect as ‘hero’

Dallas school district apologizes for assignment including Kenosha shooting suspect as ‘hero’
An assignment that implied that alleged Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse was a hero has drawn criticism by students and parents. (Wokandapix/Pixabay)

The school district in Dallas apologized for an assignment given to high school students that implied that Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen accused of killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last month, was a “hero.”

The English class assignment at W.T. White High School also included Joseph Rosenbaum, one of the two men allegedly killed by Rittenhouse in the Wisconsin city during a protest in August; and George Floyd, the Minneapolis man killed by police on May 25. Demonstrators in Wisconsin were protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake last month when Rittenhouse, 17, allegedly opened fire, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The two-part assignment, called “Hero for the Modern Age,” asked students to write a half-page biography about six people: Mahatma Gandhi, César Chávez, Malcolm X, George Floyd, Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum, KTVT reported. Gandhi and Malcolm X’s names were misspelled, according to a screenshot obtained by the television station.

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According to KTVT, the second half of the assignment directed students to write a one-page essay on one of the persons on the list, “you believe demonstrates best your concept of a hero.”

Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the Aug. 25 fatal shootings of Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, NBC News reported.

The assignment quickly drew complaints on social media, the Morning News reported. Approximately 90% of the students in the Dallas Independent School District are Black or Latino, the newspaper reported.

Kristian Hernandez told the television station that her younger brother, a senior at the high school, shared a screen grab of the assignment with her family.

“My brother was really in disbelief that this was actually an assignment he was getting,” Hernandez told KXAS.

School district officials said the assignment was not approved and was taken down by administrators after it was posted to Google Classroom on Tuesday, KXAS reported.

Robyn Harris, the district’s director of news and information, told CNN she was not certain how long the assignment had been up.

Although a teacher’s name has been published on social media, school district officials have not released the person’s name. Officials did say the teacher has been working in the district for approximately three years, KXAS reported.

“An unapproved assignment posted in Google Classroom yesterday has been brought to our attention,” district officials said in a written statement. "Understandably, this caused some concern for the impacted students, and we apologize. Campus administration immediately removed the unapproved content and students are not required to complete that assignment. Due to personnel policies, we are not able to comment further, however, the appropriate steps are being followed pending investigation.

“Racial equity is a top priority in Dallas ISD, and we remain committed to providing a robust teaching environment where all students can learn,” officials said in a written statement. “It is important that we continue to be culturally sensitive to our diverse populations and provide a space of respect and value.”

The Morning News reached out to the teacher, whose name was on the assignment, but has not received a response.